After almost two months, I am still getting my head around what my son’s assessment as “highly gifted” means. I am frustrated. He is not a child prodigy, but is more than just smart… I feel kind-of stuck.

When I have told close and trusted friends that my son is highly gifted, the most common response I get is “Well of course we know he is clever”. It is almost made light of. (Occasionally I get an “Every child is gifted” response but I will leave that for another blog!!)

On the other hand, when I talk to educational experts or some parents of highly gifted plus – it almost seems to go too far the other way. I get recommended books about being a parent of a genius, or it is suggested we might have to move to a university city. I can’t yet see my boy along those lines. Perhaps I am in denial, plus him being 2E complicates things. Where exactly does he fit in?

So – as I am prone to do – I did some research. I thought my readers (and me) would benefit from understanding how giftedness is formally assessed AND the four levels of giftedness.

To be officially assessed as gifted, achievement tests can be used, and/or IQ or cognitive abilities testing (we used the WISC-V). It is worth noting that while these tests provide information for the intellectual intelligence, they are not as helpful in identifying someone with creative, leadership, or other abilities.

The percentile ranks of standard scores show how one has performed relative to their age peers. Higher percentile ranks indicate intellectual ability further from the mean. For instance, our son’s full scale IQ is set at the 99th percentile. That means he performed equal to or higher than 99% of other children the same age (i.e. in the top 1% of age peers). Meanwhile his WIAT-II mathematical skills were set at the 99.8th and >99.9th percentiles.

(I am telling you this so you can see where he fits in statistically, to make sense of all this).

Giftedness can be ranked on the following levels. For each level, different academic interventions will be appropriate. A child who has scored beyond the 99th percentile will have intellectual needs that are even more different from age peers and also different from other gifted children.

  • Moderately Gifted       95th-99th percentile
  • Highly Gifted                99th-99.9th percentile (one in 100)
  • Exceptionally Gifted  99.9th-99.97th percentile
  • Profoundly Gifted       >99.97


And so – for our highly gifted boy with exceptional mathematical skills – he is MORE THAN “smart” or clever”. Being in the top-streamed maths class and attending a gifted programme will NOT be enough. It would be easier if it was!!

But when you read the stories of exceptionally and profoundly gifted children, they seem so amazing; twelve year olds attending university, developing new mathematical theories… Perhaps my understanding and belief aren’t there yet – doubt creeping in – can it really be true that my son’s maths ability age is double his actual age?!

We are looking at maths acceleration and it is possible my son might need mentoring further down the track. All while tackling his 2E weaknesses as well. He is already working on passion projects at school, and had a second day at his gifted programme added, with greater collaboration between the two.

I do wonder what the future will hold. For now all I ask is that my friends and family understand how big a deal this actually is, while also not going too far in their expectations. All I want is for our son to not be bored at school, to enjoy learning and to find an academic peer he (his true self) can be best friends with. And for him to be proud of who God made him to be. Don’t all parents.